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The power of the portfolio

IT Job Fair Jan 2014


More and more, the members of the National Convergence Technology Center’s (CTC) National Business and Industry Leadership Team (“BILT”) are stressing the value of IT/convergence student portfolios. At a recent quarterly BILT meeting, this topic came up again. BILT members seem unanimous in their belief that student portfolios are an essential element of a successful job interview. Just as students spend time preparing for a job search with mock interviews and resume building, so, too, should they spend time assembling a portfolio of their work.

Some highlights of this discussion:

  • If five people are interviewing for the same position and share the same background, the one applicant who brings along a portfolio “will have the edge.” The portfolio provides a “distinct advantage.” Many industry veterans with years of experience don’t even have a portfolio.
  • The portfolio doesn’t need to represent real world experience. Understandably, most community college graduates don’t yet have real world experience. Classroom projects definitely do count.
  • The projects presented in the portfolio don’t have to be huge, complicated projects, either. Small one-week “micro projects” are perfectly acceptable, especially given the fact that most new employees will start off working on smaller projects.
  • The portfolio should convey clear solutions. That is, applicants must “make it easy for the hiring manager” to understand how the problem got solved: these steps resulted in this outcome.
  • An applicant should also use the portfolio to showcase his/her skills with team work and collaboration; with successful time management; with technical know-how; and with budgets and financial needs.
  • Students need not wait to take advanced courses to start assembling a portfolio. Instead, start building it in the very first course.
  •  To make clear that he/she has a portfolio, applicants should put at the bottom of his/her resume the phrase “Portfolio available upon request” or “Portfolio available at interview.”

The National CTC is working now with the BILT to develop more specific “best practices” for student portfolios.

If you’d like to know more about the National BILT or how to set one up at your college, visit our BILT page.


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